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Adelaide Rosier
“We won’t be able to keep this from him,” Pyre had told her the night after the attack on Hogwarts, his usually smiling expression wrinkled away in several layers of worry when Adelaide had come to report with the headmaster. Barely hours after fighting off the ferals from the Hogwarts compound and Virgilius’s warning clear in her memory that the Ministry was not to be involved, Adelaide knew that she had to disappoint the respected professor. A thought she hated as she let herself fall into a seat in the headmaster’s office, wincing at the phantom pains that rocked through her body.

“We knew the risks, bringing me here under the guise of reintegration. Especially me,” she murmured in response, her eyes dark as Pyre threw a pitiful look over the young female, a mixture of regret and determination.

“Yet, I couldn’t think of anyone else,” the headmaster told her, a rare moment of sincerity before he exhaled, a smile breaking through the stern features before breaking the tension in the air, “I don’t need to tell you what to do next, do I?” he jested. Adelaide had only smiled back in response, too tired for a quip as she leaned her head back against the plush seat, knowing what was to come ahead.

That had been a week ago. A week of tense silence and pretentious peace before the hairs of the back of her neck stood straight, the chilling goosebumps covering her skin and travelling further and spreading out when a cool and smooth voice called for her.

“Miss Rosier,” Branok greeted her coolly, as if surprised to find her in the hallways of Hogwarts, despite the humiliation he had faced in St. Mungos, which had most definitely not been forgotten judging by his next words, “I had not expected your recovery to go so smoothly.”

It sounded like regret and a great displeasure, giving the female a sense of satisfaction despite the greatest displeasure in meeting the Ministry member, much too soon for her own taste.

“Nothing unexpected, mr. Carrow,” she had forced over her lips, courteous and polite, as taught, as automatism deemed from her, shoulders tensing and back straightening, “your appearance is, however,” she quickly suggested, going straight to the point, such as her charm was known for within the Ministry, to the frustration of many and Branok included.

“Can’t a father visit his daughter?” was the quick response, but Adelaide knew just as well that it was just another guise as the man stepped closer, leaning in to whisper to a former colleague, “you didn’t think of hiding the attack from me, I hope?”

A threat, Adelaide could tell, her chin pointing up as her eyes met his straight on, but both kept their true thoughts shielded and their emotions hidden, steel against steel as if challenging one another with a charged tension before Adelaide finally took a step back, relenting and allowing the man this small victory.

“I wouldn’t dare, mr. Carrow. Nigh impossible and a waste of energy,” she smiles, but anger coursed through her, knowing that both Pyre and she had worked so hard to minimise the reports and the damages, despite knowing the fruitlessness of it all. But every bit of information kept from this man was a win for the future, no matter the detail and the size. She would have to learn to be satisfied with less than perfection.

But Branok took no satisfaction without the whole win, or without perfection. Adelaide knew that, and that only made her all the more determined to not be like him, or what he wanted her to be.

“You are still single, no, miss Rosier?” The man changed the subject and Adelaide knew what was to come, the fake concern all too familiar to her from her own family as she didn’t respond, refusing to respond, instead waiting for him to continue, “a shame, truly. The ball is coming soon, your parents will expect you to look quite the complete picture,” he continued, the insinuation infuriating and disgusting as Adelaide drew in a deeper breath, her smile unfaltering and her hands crossed over her back, that perfect posture she was taught so relentlessly taking over.

“You are quite concerned, how flattering,” she got out, the flame within her maintained at a steady level, but the magic was itching to come out. Rarely was Adelaide’s reaction one of aggression, but Branok was of the kind she would gladly smite off the world, if she could do so without regards to the great consequences of all their hard work.

Another step into her direction and Adelaide, though young, but not oblivious, felt an alarm go off within her as the glint in Branok’s changed into something more dangerous, a hand rising up in front of her, palm up as he curtsied, ever so charmingly in the way he had the Ministry wrapped around his finger.

“Of course,” he tells her in a low voice, but there is another warning laced through it, one that told her he wouldn’t tolerate anything akin to a rejection, “we just want what’s best for you.”

The thought that her parents had approved of this, that there was a possibility that Branok could go behind her back to her parents and believed that to force her hands, brought a bile up her throat, aware of the wall behind her.

“Marvelous,” she dryly responded, sidestepping the man to free herself from the cramped space into which the man was pushing her, her hands still out of his reach and way before she curtsied back, “I believe I’m quite satisfiedly set,” Adelaide tells him.

The shock of the claim, whether lie or not, is enough for Branok to lose his posture for a moment, the word ‘satisfiedly’, usually by far not enough as ‘perfection’ was all that was allowed within their circles. Yet, the claim that Adelaide was ‘set’ the Adelaide Rosier was more boggling than anything from which Adelaide took a glee out of, but felt an exasperation at the same time.

“And who could be the lucky fellow?” Branok recovers himself slowly, a smile on his lips, but the humiliation lingering in the similar manner as when the man found out that he had been too late when Adelaide was in St. Mungos. A petty sort of satisfaction for Adelaide, whose smile lifted wider at the corner.

I consider myself the lucky one,” she claimed, the lie not entirely a lie, Adelaide counted herself lucky to not be stuck with anyone, especially not with anyone approved by the likes of him or her parents. However, she was aware of the dangerous waters she was treading herself into, knowing that she was summoning more eyes on her.

The options passed through her mind. Marco, but he was in a relationship and Adelaide did not wish to come between that, Will was also out of the question, she knew how Caia felt, and Pyre was just wholly unbelievable because of the power dynamic off tilted.

Virgilius came to mind. She was fairly certain that he was single. Yet, there seemed to be a forbidding aura lingering onto the thought of approaching the head of Ravenclaw about the matter. Not only because of the fact that he already had a daughter, or was her professor first before they were equals.

“Now, I would be delighted to know who miss Rosier speaks so highly of,” the question prodded at her, almost enclosing her in her lie and catching her onto the fabrication as Adelaide was given no time to truly think, other than give the most genuine answer to the question of whom she thought so highly of, for that was the truth and the whole truth of it;

“Virgillius Hildegard,” the name escaped her so easily that it even surprised Adelaide at how natural it sounded, as if she hadn’t been blustering barely a week back in the classrooms when she so boldly had declared Virgilius a partner. The heat that she felt crawling to her cheeks afterwards was both in that embarrassing realisation as much as that it unintentionally added to the realism of her lie.

For what seemed to be the umpteenth time Branok was taken aback at the declaration, his eyes widening in a disbelief and then covered in that cool collectiveness he carried with that lingering stench of anger and arrogant misplaced bias he beheld with him everywhere. “Is that so,” he remarked, his voice chilly at the very mention of the one person he could possibly stand less than a impudent little pureblood witch that refused to conform. “I believe that to be quite be—”

“What you believe, mr. Carrow, is not a concern of mine,” Adelaide interrupted, taking back the control of the conversation as she curtsied once more, the emphasis on herself made to clarify that this wasn’t any business of her family either. The thought that this was the one forbidden person within her circles only came seconds after her concern of the reliability of such a claim being believed at all. Adelaide would make it work, however, even if Virgillius refused.

“Now, I must excuse myself, I hope you manage to find your daughter, she is an excellent student,” Adelaide quickly interrupted whatever thought was to follow from Branok, her figure quick to step around the man as she wished for nothing more but to be away from him.

A hold onto her arm held her back, however, Branok’s eyes glowing in a dangerous manner and anger as he tugged her towards him.

“If you know what’s good for you, you know not to cross me, miss Rosier,” came the final warning.

Text colour: #B4AAB6
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de786902b719f828705452a31a9a3040.jpg"A necessity?! There was a greater necessity at hand, and you've proven incompetent! A simple task as a sign of good faith from this Council! What other than an obstruction is your involvement in this?"

"Count, respectfully, we do not seem to be understanding each other-"

"Quite right! You ought to just keep wasting our time!"

Even through the projection on the mirror, Orpheus' fist hitting against the oak table, managed to pull Virgil's attention back to the image in front of him. His eyes stared cooly at the indent made by his father and his ears perceived the silence that fell on the Council's table, but his mind was noisy and heavily burdened. The news hit him hard to the point of nausea, and it still hadn't subsided after a sleepless night.

All the rage of the moment and the feelings of regret for years after the fact threatened to trample an even more significant, years-long effort of Virgil's to put it behind him. A dread of the past came surging down on him the previous night, contained in three simple words he naively believed he would never hear.

Thelonius is free.

Unnerved by the silence, a woman dressed in dark robes - undoubtedly a courtesy of the Ministry of Magic - gave in first, adjusting her posture and clearing her throat: a weak attempt to downplay her pride and regain the relevance she and her colleague had seemed to have lost.

"We offer you, the Council, our sincere apologies," the witch finally said, throwing a glance Virgil's way and lowering her head once she encountered his piercing, unyielding gaze. They apologize. Naturally, an apology would make it all instantly better. It would erase a death of a witch, erase the crime, the danger and, certainly, it would erase a label of traitor he volunteered for when he handed them the culprit. Sometimes, a simplicity of a mind fascinated him. The man in similar robes followed suit, although his eyes remained wary of Orpheus Hildegard, that sat deep in his chair, grasping the bridge of his nose. It was quite possibly a clever attempt on Ministry's part to seemingly submit in front of the Council. A charade Virgil was well familiar with. And while he held no importance to it, the rest of the vampires assembled seemed to be taking a liking to be deemed superior: a sentiment that plagued his entire kind - an undeserving sense of grandiosity.

"Virgilius," a gentle voice called out to him through the silver barrier, and his focus shifted. Countess Celeste Bancroft was a sight to behold. With ashen locks and amber eyes, she was a unique individual with her sleeves full of more than just the apparent benefit of her extraordinary beauty. Seemingly unfazed by the ordeal, Celeste tapped her fingers against the table and smirked sympathetically. The meaning of the incident for Virgil did not evade her, and she had radiated the same feeling of support now as she did back then.

"A galleon for your thoughts?"

Hildegard nodded to the request but did not rush his response. With all eyes on him now, however, he had to have one, one way or the other. After some consideration to remain polite and pragmatic, Virgil intertwined his fingers on the lap and addressed the Council.

"I am afraid I cannot, in good faith, place my full trust into Ministry once again." A simple statement provoked a series of whispers around the table and a quick protest from the wizard.

"Mister Hildegard, I dispute!"

"Pardon me, Mister Oswald," Virgilius cut right in, heightening his tone, only briefly expressing his annoyance over the interruption. "I am not finished." With a visible snark, Orpheus lifted his hand, beckoning for silence before gesturing towards Virgilius to proceed.

"The Council had operated in good faith when they have agreed to allow you to handle the problem. That, clearly, proved unsuccessful," he proceeded. "That being said, the Council needs to understand that what occurred, occurred on the Ministry's territory and any future incident will potentially happen there," he paused briefly, bringing his brief speech to a conclusion. "Matter of fact is that the Ministry bears the responsibility for a prisoner escaping their care. But I suggest what I believe to be a fair compromise in this case."

"And that would be?" the witch sounded again. She was visibly curious and slightly annoyed about the turn the conversation took after an unyielding response from the Elders of the Council. They approached the resolution of the issue believing they had the upper hand just to be brought down, humiliated, and only then granted a proper audience. Virgilius Hildegard wasn't a plus one they counted with. It couldn't have felt encouraging. Virgil felt the entire weight of the table's attention for the first time since the beginning, but there was no thinning out what he had brewed. Once more, his voice sounded confidently through the mirror, even though he felt anything but.

"The fate of Thelonius Dante, upon his recapture, is to be decided by the Council."


There was only as much room for the problem to actively occupy his mind until it made space for his other daily obligations. By the evening, concerns were stored aside as his hands were full of schoolwork. By the time the last class had finished, all the papers were neatly stacked in alphabetical order. The quill was back in its richly ornated case, a good-luck gift from professor Sergei Elin, a man of generous heart and sharp wit and whose world was to be shattered by the same news rattling Virgil to his core just yesterday. Hildegard remained sitting for a while, eyes projected at the ground ahead of him until the last bits of a cigarette burned out and disappeared into thin air.

Often deemed a hermit for his obvious enjoyment in the solitude of his chambers, Virgil found that a stroll around the castle sounded a more appealing pastime activity when one was hoping to briefly disconnect from reality. In fact, it was advised. However, nobody continued to advise on how to act when the pursuit for peace threw you into one of the
most inconvenient positions at the moment.

"Virgillius Hildegard," the voice of professor Rosier reached him, decisive and bright. Yet, it couldn't have been directed to him as he had to switch his entire route just to determine where the mention of his name came from. A familiar pleasant smell of medical balm tickled his nose at the hallway's corner. Because of it, miss Rosier seemed to be the easiest person to find roaming around Hogwarts.

"What you believe, Mr. Carrow, is not a concern of mine," came a demand containing what he thought of as the last attempt of politeness that Adelaide was willing to spend.

Further listening to the exchange caused him uneasiness. Branok Carrow was a man of significant influence but weak values. Morality and understanding did not seem to have been necessary concepts in his dictionary. If the reputation of the Ministry hadn't been on the rocky feet already, Branok Carrow hardly did it any favor.

"Now, I must excuse myself, I hope you manage to find your daughter, she is an excellent student," came another, final attempt of Adelaide's to be left alone. But it was never that easy with Carrow's kind. Hildegard's assumptions were quickly confirmed when his ears picked up an ominous piece of dialogue that certainly did not sound like casual conversation material.

"If you know what's good for you, you know not to cross me, miss Rosier,"

Granted, any such approach was sure to provoke an adverse reaction from Hildegard, but this time it almost felt personal. On top of everyone else, Adelaide Rosier did not deserve such insolence, deliberate or otherwise.

A deep breath cleared his head from intrusive thoughts, leaving room for more pragmatic assistance in Adelaide's favor. As fast as it crumpled into a frown, Virgil's face restored to its usual stoic self, and with that, he stepped forward, marching down the hallways with even, barely audible steps.

"Ah! There you are, miss Rosier," he called out once he was comfortably within the ear range. As if on command, the grip on Adelaide's arm grew lighter. Branok's gaze briefly remained fixated on Adelaide before he offered her a cool smirk, turning towards professor Hildegard that involved himself. Undoubtedly, he could have assumed the intention behind professor Hildegard's entrance. "I would appreciate your thought on some of the student assignments I have piled up," he proceeded calmly until he fully approached the two, acknowledging Branok with a respectful nod.

"Unless... I am interrupting?"

Branok seemed to be reading his face for any sign of bother. Finding nothing, subtle disgust disappeared under the mask of diplomacy as he extended his hand out with a charming smirk. "Not at all, professor Hildegard. We were having a bit of catching up to do." he offered an answer, engaging Adelaide with his false gaze of fondness. "It has been quite some time since we last had a proper conversation."

Pausing to assess the offered hand as Branok would possibly expect him to, Virgil finally shook it with a meek smirk. "So I've been told," he confirmed, giving Adelaide an encouraging nod, a wordless confirmation that he had her back. "Quite a bothersome trip for a bit of quality time, dare I say," Virgil prodded further, and it seemed to not have escaped Branok this time.

"Parental duties," he had announced once more matter-of-factly. "Although it proved to be more than I have expected, mister Hildegard. I am... quite surprised with some other news I've received," Branok constated, deliberately prolonging the final word, his inquisitorial glance gliding between the two.
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Adelaide Rosier
The seconds of silence that followed after, with Adelaide trying her utmost not to outright glare at someone who was not only a type of superior to her, and a senior, but also someone of considerable influence in spaces she needed, were quickly seized with the appearance of the very man whose name she had uttered not even a minute ago.

The grip loosened, the eyes turned and Adelaide was familiar enough with that observing and accosting glare that Branok tried to cover that she saw her chance to escape, quickly moving away from the man as she fluidly flitted to the side of another, a hand pressing against Virgilius’s arm before exchanging a smile.

“Mr. Carrow here was quite concerned about my date for the upcoming Carrow ball,” Adelaide quickly filled in, a glance thrown over to the other whose expression was slowly growing into a shimmering fire. Adelaide wondered if he had carried the same expression when the news reached him that headmaster Pyre had gotten to Adelaide first in St. Mungos, a small victory that expressed itself in a suppressed smile as she lifted her chin, eyeing Virgilius with her own, trusting that the man would catch onto her meaning. He had always been remarkable at reading her, even as a troubled student.

“Not quite, I rather–” Branok tried to speak before Adelaide interrupted him again, enjoying the control of the conversation she beheld a tad too much as she turned around, her hand sneaking into the space between waist and arm of Virgilius as if it was the most natural thing.

“Head of Ravenclaw, member of the council, bridge between wizard, witch and vampires, I do believe his credentials are impressive enough for a ball like yours, not?” Adelaide interposed, forcing Branok to tip his hat in acknowledgement, for there was no doubt about the respect and position that Virgilius demanded together with headmaster Pyre.

“I rather do believe instead that I’m the one underqualified,” she continued lacing yet another truth in the mirage of lies she was spinning, her smile unfaltering as she tried not to squeeze Virgilius’s arm too tightly lest she would give away her own anxiety, “so you may imagine my delight,” she finalised, hammering away one last time on that nail that sealed both her own grave and any arguments Branok may have had in opposition.
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1697645083771.jpeg"Oh?" Virgilius mused with meek yet genuine curiosity. Being caught off guard was a rarity to the point where it felt alien and slightly uncomfortable. His mind sought to resolve the conundrum in the quickest way possible without letting on that he hadn't a single clue what the man was speaking of. That is, until a simple gesture drew the entirety of his thinking process in a completely different direction. As evasive and as distant as she was bright, Miss Rosier was now making a rather intimate contact against his side, a contact so out of character for the young woman that he took a double take at the point where their persons were the closest, swiftly going through all the possible scenarios that could have such outcome. Adelaide seemed to be having the conversation under control. Looking for protection wasn't it. Not quite.

Support. It seemed like a more plausible solution to the puzzle in Hildegard's head. She needed an ally.

"Mr. Carrow here was quite concerned about my date for the upcoming Carrow ball," Adelaide explained quickly. It spilled out naturally and confidently as she further wrapped herself around his arm in silent demand.

"I see," Virgil nodded slightly, meeting his partner's disarming gaze, full of scripted fondness and, underneath it, burning expectation. And even if circumstances were different, he would have yielded under it. It was a good enough conviction for a pair of perplexed chartreuse eyes to soften against Adelaide's, giving in to her little play. A warm smirk danced across his lips, in part as a response to Miss Rosier's request and in part as a delightful reaction to Carrow's speechlessness.

"Head of Ravenclaw, member of the council, bridge between wizard, witch and vampires, I do believe his credentials are impressive enough for a ball like yours, not?" Barely visible, Branok's jaw clenched. Responding against the storm of arguments Adelaide threw his way without mercy seemed like a fool's endeavor. If nothing else, Branok Carrow knew better than to insist. "I rather do believe instead that I'm the one underqualified. So you may imagine my delight," she concluded, stubbornly clinging to his side.

"Nonsense, Adelaide," Virgilius spoke up with a measured-out tone of affection that flew seamlessly. It didn't take an awful amount of effort to strike into the hot iron of a very bold pretend with a reassuring, loving grip on Miss Rosier's hand tucked comfortably in the fold of his arm. "I am honored and humbled to have you by my side. I continue to wonder what have I done to earn it." And wondered he did. A brief, subtle note to Adelaide that he would be waiting for further explanation to be given later. Virgil cleared his throat, acknowledging the third party again.

"My apologies, mister Carrow. I was caught off-guard, I have to admit," Virgil spoke, his eyes throwing darts at Branok with the warmth of a loved man. Something deep inside him stirred, then vanished. "Miss Rosier isn't quite so fond of publically exhibiting our...involvement. But who am I to protest if she is willing to share it with you?"

As if he was still looking for a hole in their alibi, Branok darted his gaze between the two, nodding in acknowledgment. "I cannot say I am not taken aback, Mister Hildegard. But," he accentuated, straightening his posture to keep his pride intact in the light of the idea that his family could be tainted with one alike Hildegard's. "I am willing to listen and respect my kin's decision. As unorthodox as it may be," Branok noted further, turning a burning glare towards Adelaide, assessing his options. There weren't as many as he had hoped. Outnumbered, he turned to diplomacy in favor of his own importance. "However, I believe introducing yourself to the rest of the family is the gentleman's way, Mister Hildegard. Achievements aside, I am certain her blood would prefer to know that our Addy is well taken care of, first and foremost. I hope you are willing to entertain." A crooked smirk indicated a jest, but an unyielding and prickly gaze revealed it was deeply soured.

Instead of lingering too much on it, Virgilius nodded politely. "The pleasure's all mine, Mister Carrow. Now that you've brought it up, I can say I am looking forward to it. I believe it is time to make it official, no?" his question flew playfully, aimed at Adelaide.

"Wonderful," seeped from Branok's throat that felt like closing with bitterness. "But would you look at the time? Quite a busy schedule for the Ministry these days. You surely understand," he shot Adelaide a brief, knowing glance. "Family time is scarce, and I am looking to make the best of it," he concluded, nodding in greeting towards the couple, preparing to make his way out. "Wonderful to see you again, Miss Rosier. I will make sure I inform your parents of your well-being. They were awfully concerned. And, of course, congratulations. I will be expecting you for the Ball. Eagerly." The claim was followed by the charming smile of a man who faked so many that they became disturbingly natural.

"We wouldn't expect anything less, Mister Carrow," Virgil responded with a rehearsed smirk of his own, refusing to tap out of the game of wit he had been served until the very end.
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Adelaide Rosier
Always quick to catch on, professor Hildegard stepped into his newly acquired role of faux-lover perfectly. It visibly relaxed Adelaide, who allowed herself to adjust and even flush at the sound of her name, eyes turning up to the man with a quick blink before focussing on the common enemy that grew more and more vexed at this open display of affection.

The reminder of Branok’s connection to hers, like all purebloods are connected in some way, chilled whatever warmth had managed to rush to Adelaide’s cheeks however. Her lips pulled, setting itself into a long line that was between a polite and practised smile and a grimace, and her eyes hardened as she willed herself not to shiver at the way her fond nickname rolled over his lips made her feel.

The man disgusted her and Adelaide had quite forgotten about her family. She had merely beaten one disturbance and acquired another, much larger one. One that Adelaide actively avoided to be in contact with any more than needed.

“Headmaster Pyre is known to close the gates of the castle early, you should make haste,” Adelaide evenly told the man as part of a warning, her grip tightening ever so slightly around the sole support Adelaide had now. There would be so much to apologise for and to discuss, too much so even, dizzying her all the more.

With the minister excused Adelaide tears her eyes away from the man, up towards the man she had supposedly tied herself with, and warmth drew into her cheeks once more at having to fixate her eyes on Hildegard’s visage in a manner unlike that of a respected professor or a much appreciated colleague.

“We still have the matter of our collaboration to discuss next trimester,” she announced loudly, slipping right into the matter of work and lying about a class that was never to come, though that wasn’t to say she had never dreamt of such a class, as she drew Hildegard away from the slick little man that now had his eyes eagled onto them.

And only when Adelaide felt that she was out of Branok’s purview did she release Hildegard. A deep breath releasing itself from her before throwing an apologetic look at the man.

“Thank you,” she starts, her hand going over her heart as if to will it to calm down, “though it seems I have brought you into quite a pickle,” she continues, guilt washing over her at the idea of all the intricacies that came with being invited to the Christmas ball. Specifically when a guest of the Rosiers.

1697667042147.jpegThe evil of the man wasn't foreign to Virgil. If anything, by now, he had seen it in many forms, and they no longer phased him as they probably meant to. But occasionally, a sense of impending problem greater than his life experiences vexed him anew. This time, it reflected in miss Rosier's rising impatience to conclude the exchange. Her words continued to hold steady, but a subtle clench of her hand gave away her true state of mind. It wasn't a weakness but a sign she had kept her humanity tucked away behind cold pragmatism.

Strategically and empathically, Virgil reacted with a reassuring squeeze on her hand, nodding towards Branok. "And we wouldn't want to take up any more of your time."

"We still have the matter of our collaboration to discuss next trimester," Adelaide added with a slightly exaggerated urgency that lured out a genuine chuckle out of Virgil. It was the first time he had ever heard of any such plan, but in the light of all the other well-intertwined lies that were said throughout the conversation, there was nothing about that one that would have been hard to believe.

"Of course," he agreed to the imaginary class with a polite smile. A genuine one at that, as the thought of it being a pretty interesting idea briefly crossed his mind. "Have a wonderful evening, mister Carrow. Please excuse us." Professor Hildegard greeted the man politely before he followed Adelaide's move right on cue. "And you," could be heard before a tense silence. Even without looking his way, Virgil could feel the man's piercing eyes burning holes in both of their skulls until they left him behind several corners.

The hand around his arm loosened and slipped away, leaving him alone once more. There was no denying that it was a comfortable, welcome interaction. But the one that had already lasted past its prime, leaving only cold, stern necessity for emotional support before evaporating completely. With Adelaide finding her way out of the lie she had spun, he had expected to see only enforced walls when he looked at her again. Instead, his gaze met that of a timid doe, sheepish about the split-second decision that brought her temporary relief but likely caused more complications down the line.

Hundreds of questions ran through his head demanding clarification, but, regardless, he gave way to the most sensible, the most selfless one instead.

"Are you alright?"

"Thank you," she responded throughout the attempt to restore her peace. Virgil bowed his head in response. "Though it seems I have brought you into quite a pickle," Adelaide proceeded, guilt over her choices now evident. "Well," he began, crossing his arms on his chest and barely containing apparent amusement in his tone. "Had someone told me that I would end my day with a lover and a hasty decision to attend the Carrows' event, I would have considered them a drunkard or a fool." A chuckle escaped him as he seemingly shrugged off the challenge she so masterfully tossed him into. "And, yet. Here we are."

He took a moment for her nervousness to settle before falling back into the main point. "Yes, you did indeed put me in an extremely unfavorable position, miss Rosier. And I would like to know more about the problems I will inevitably encounter if you would be so inclined," he continued candidly, but his words held no accusation. "Nevertheless, whatever predicament you've found yourself in with Branok Carrow, I will gladly stand by your side." he nodded reassuringly.

"All you have to do is ask."
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Adelaide Rosier
Adelaide was by no means a child anymore, unaware of the consequences of her actions and the meaning behind the allusion she had tried to pull over Branok. She was aware of her declaration being an open declaration of love. She knew she had just declared Hildegard, of all people in the world, her lover. She knew that of all people she wasn’t known for her frivolous relationships. That when and if she ever declared herself in love that Adelaide was expected to be set for life. That was the type of person she had viewed herself as and that was how the world and her society had viewed her as.

Yet, the utterance of the word ‘lover’ coming from Hildegard brought a bright red flush across her freckles, making the little spots all the more prominent under the red flush the rest of her face took.

“I certainly wouldn’t have bet on it myself,” was the lame response she gave, which was an embarassing truth in the current moment but a weak defence. As if she had woken up this morning with the idea of forcing the Head of Ravenclaw as her lover. As if she had swallowed an amortentia and suddenly figured out that, deep within her, next to all of that respect she felt for Hildegard, there was something more that she had always been too afraid to admit.

Not to mention the fact that she was once his student!

“Branok’s appearance startled me. I expected an appearance from the Ministry after last night, but not this quick,” Adelaide started her explanation, rushed and breathless before halting herself and taking in a deep breath, grounding herself as she demanded her own control back in the same manner her mother had demanded her time and her perfection.

A flutter of the eyes passed and another deep breath, though Adelaide wasn’t sure what she was trying to get rid of, the former auror refocused herself, reaching for that ice-cold agent of the ministry she had been right after graduation.

“I had no plans on actually making an appearance at the Christmas ball, but with this declaration I will raise more suspicion by not attending,” Adelaide finally decided revealing that she originally had no intention of attending, “but I can make up an excuse for you, there is no need to mix yourself with that crowd,” she continues, already quick to dismiss the idea as plans brew up on what she could do to make the story as plausible as possible, ready to take on the whole load on her own. She would just have to figure out how to beat off Branok’s advances, but that was not a responsibility of Hildegard.

“I hate to give the man credit, but he was right. If you were to be my partner for the Christmas ball proper introductions have to be made.”

Her parents would be more relieved seeing her alone than appear with a vampire in tow. It was the same sort of relief Adelaide felt avoiding her family, which she has been stauntly doing so since graduation, than to be around them. There had only been some sparse visits in the hospital that she couldn’t avoid, and even then Adelaide had made it a point to be busy herself. The thought of having to interact with them in a familial sphere earned a grimace from the woman, already vexed at the crowd she wasn’t about to meet for many more months.

And so Adelaide had stubbornly decided by herself that she wasn’t going to ask. For this wasn’t a problem of two that involved Hildegard, but of herself entirely. “I couldn’t possibly make you suffer that humiliation,” she declared.
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1697754159731.jpegAdelaide's hasty response did not seem to have phased Virgil. He observed her flustered face as she blabbered out the best possible explanation she could come up with with a collected, steady gaze. He gave away none of his delight of seeing her in such a state. While he could have assumed, in her mind, she scolded herself for it, Virgil was humbled by the sight of visual genuineness her wit was struggling to play down. Wonderful freckles dancing in emotional response to an awkward situation, a slight nervous skip in her voice, and a gaze that refused to play along, holding what little of cold, calculated self-control it could. Had the situation been any different, he believed he would be tempted to make her blush for a little longer.

"I hate to give the man credit, but he was right. If you were to be my partner for the Christmas ball proper introductions have to be made," Adelaide concluded, evidently unhappy with the idea. "I couldn't possibly make you suffer that humiliation."

"Well, I am terribly sorry if you feel that way, Miss Rosier," he spoke up, filling the silence between them after Adelaide's passionate monologue. "Surely, I may not be the most outstanding candidate, but I may just be your best option as things are now." A slight smirk and a subtle hint of pride in his stance indicated a light-hearted response without the intention to truly influence Adelaide's decision.

Anything he aimed to say next was briefly interrupted by a group of chatty students emerging from the corner. Virgil quickly stepped back as if rehearsed, creating a more business-like conversational distance between Adelaide and himself, keeping a straight face. A row of formal greetings to both of them ensued as the group passed by, seemingly completely oblivious to the conversation that was taking place.

With a calm sigh, Virgil lowered his hands into his pockets once the last student disappeared on the opposite side of the hallway, turning to resume his round around the castle. "If you don't mind, Professor Rosier, I'd like us to have a little walk. I've found it helps with conundrums like this one."

Despite his step being capable of covering a greater distance, Professor Hildegard maintained Adelaide's pace. Between synchronized sounds of their shoes against the floor, Virgil spoke up on the matter yet again.

"You know better than I do that Branok isn't simply going to allow you to gloss this over," he stated, a brutal fact that anyone doing business with the man could have quickly realized early on. "He isn't a man of many qualities, but tenacity is the one to note. With all due respect to your abilities, Miss Rosier, diving headfirst into the wolf's den, knowing very well the wolf is there waiting to pounce, is foolish," he paused briefly, measuring out the appropriate amount of personal view and concerns to add to his words.

"Humiliation is hardly a foreign concept to me. If that is your only concern, rest assured that I haven't made my way through life by being favored and praised, nor by assigning value to slander off of people's tongues. For what it is worth, I would very gladly take that on if then you would not be going through more hardship than you have signed yourself up for already. And me," he noted with a hint of mischief in his tone.

"Unfortunately, this is no longer a hypothetical scenario of if I were your partner," he quoted her own words back to her. "You have efficiently made me your partner just minutes ago. In front of none other but Branok himself," making sure none was around to witness it, he let out a muffled chuckle and shook his head lightly.

"Adelaide Rosier. What in Merlin's name were you thinking?"
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Adelaide Rosier

No, he was right, and Adelaide detested that as much as she hated the idea of Branok being right. Even with a perfectly plausible excuse to get Hildegard out of the pickle the former auror was left with terribly few choices to pick from that could pose a challenge to the overbearing minister.

A thought and idea that earned a deep sigh from her.

And so she allowed the man to lead the path, her falling into step with him as she listened, her mind whirring to counter it, but finding that she was actually convinced instead.

“Clearly, I wasn’t,” came her statement, which was an admission Adelaide didn’t often make. Being the chronic overthinker she was, living within her mind more than with her heart or instinct, Adelaide had never truly made a decision as impulsive as this one, other than the decision of becoming an auror after graduation. “It was either to suffer his invitation, or come with the next best name to challenge him. Yours was the first that came to mind.”

She hadn’t even needed Hildegard’s monologue to convince herself from doing otherwise. Adelaide had known all along that there was no other choice but the vampire.

Stopping in her step Adelaide turned towards Hildegard, her eyes hardening in determination as she threw her chin up, a professional confidence latching on.

“If you are insistent on getting in on the scheme we can commence, but we will need some ground rules. I don’t mind employing you, or being employed, but we need to lay some ground rules. Both to protect your dignity and to be as convincing as we can,” Adelaide cooly stated, making sure to emphasise that whilst she didn’t much care for her own, she did worry about Hildegard’s reputation.
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1698189713869.jpeg"Mh," Virgil agreed with a smirk. While the case was mainly amusing to the man, he sympathized with the situation his colleague had effectively placed herself in. He found that it wasn't a position that anyone would envy her for.

"It was either to suffer his invitation, or come with the next best name to challenge him. Yours was the first that came to mind."

Virgil nodded humbly in understanding even though, right after, his chin perked up with a dose of pride that he wasn't reluctant to admit. "Well, I cannot say I am not honored by the fact, Miss Rosier. You know I may not be the optimal candidate as a, well. A vampire." Admittedly, even saying it out loud seemed like a joke. "However, I believe we could make it work in your favor. After all, they are very much used to you being the rebellious current in your family's matters, are they not? You would be expected to look beyond their conservative views without much desire for approval." A sentence that filled him with hope that the wizarding world was still not lost. As long as there was a single pure-blood that resisted the expectation, the effort was worth it.

Just as he had allowed her to dictate their walking pace, Virgil readily stopped on Adelaide's cue, mirroring the stance she had introduced into the conversation. He pulled back in front of her confidence that grew anew, giving her the advantage of the final decision on the matter.

"If you are insistent on getting in on the scheme we can commence, but we will need some ground rules," she spoke pragmatically, building up the battle strategy onto the idea. He was hardly insistent on participating in Miss Rosier's scheme as it evidently meant an unfavorable position for him. Still, such looming hardships had never stopped him from being at service for those he held dear. He may have been both the best and the worst option for the task, but he believed could work out both scenarios with a desired outcome.

"I don't mind employing you, or being employed, but we need to lay some ground rules. Both to protect your dignity and to be as convincing as we can."

Virgil had a half of mind to dispute the importance of his dignity in the given situation over Miss Rosier's, but with a single glance at her determined expression, he waved off the idea with a soft sigh.

"Understood," he nodded solemnly. "Well, then. What would be the combat strategy, Professor Rosier?"
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Adelaide Rosier

What were ground rules for fake relationships? Adelaide found herself questioning that first before realising that she didn’t know what the ground rules were for actual relationships. Was she supposed to hug the man now at every meeting? Smile up at him and cling onto his arms like in those romances that the exes of Marco liked?

Or emulate the jealousy her friend’s exes tended to show at the secret Marco and she shared in the muggle world?

Holding hands, wild confessions, kisses, all sorts of scenarios went through Adelaide’s mind as she recalled the novels and the movies and whatever more she had been subjected to when Marco introduced her to the muggle world.

Not to mention, thinking of another man right in front of another man that she was supposedly dating as the word went, even if it was fake.

Adelaide found it quickly becoming quite a complicated matter. One that she couldn’t easily lay ground rules of without being made fun of.

“I–,” Adelaide started, scraping her throat, the sudden embarrassment of having to admit that she had no experience whatsoever within this department, fake or real, only one broken heart and that didn’t even count.

“The strategy is to be as convincing as possible, without intruding into each other’s personal spheres of overstepping boundaries,” the missus announced instead, knowing that it was vague, but it was the best she could do before passing the ball off onto Hildegard.
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1699050149368.jpegVirgil waited patiently. He knew more than well enough that the topic at hand was a complex one, even in its innate form without additional conditioning. Nobody really had it all figured out. It's been a long time since he had even thought of it, regardless of the constant inquiries of those around him. With his head in books and his mind busy with a neverending list of obligations, he was not that different.

However, Miss Rosier's hesitation, followed by a vague response, seemed to keep leaving an opening for him to take the lead: an unusual circumstance, considering Adelaide's otherwise proactive, problem-solving personality.

"I understand your hesitation," Virgil spoke up slowly, resuming the casual pace forward, giving her enough time to join in easily. "And I understand that, perhaps, what I would be expected to know as your partner, you do not wish to tell me. I have no intention to ask that of you. That being said, we need to compromise between boundaries and intimacy," he began, adding sustenance to the idea. "Every romantic involvement is different. Ours may not be a typical, openly passion-crazed one often looked at as a staple," he mused further, "and making it so would be a wrong way to go about it."

Virgil paused briefly, tucking his arms behind his back, offering his own vision of the plan. "I imagine it to be tastefully measured out towards the world, yet confident. A physical touch, much like you have instigated back there, would suffice. A companionship without obsessiveness. But, most importantly, familiarity," Hildegard concluded with a smirk. "Our privacy may be contested with questions about each other. I suggest we take our time and go through not only important, basic details but also what we would be asking each other if we were to be involved in such a manner. It doesn't matter whether what you tell me is fictitious or not. What matters is that we are both confident in the information we give," he nodded, a witty suggestion coming to mind.

"Here's an idea. A homework of sorts. We can start with three questions that we'd like to know a response to from our partner. Keeping previously mentioned limits in mind, of course. What do you reckon, Miss-," he paused and cleared his throat. "Truth be told, this seems like it will be the biggest challenge of them all." The dreaded first name basis.

"Let me rephrase that," Virgil chuckled, clearing his throat. "What do you say, Adelaide?" Amusingly enough, it did not sound half as strange.
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Adelaide Rosier
Tastefully measured, yet confident. Adelaide had no image for what that was supposed to look like other than the earlier example given that had been entirely run on instinct with her. She tried to imagine her parents, the one couple she was aware of that held themselves to the highest class of sorts, but ran short on memories of ever seeing affection between the two. Not expressed in front of her at the very least. She tried to think of Marco’s ex and of Caia’s and still couldn’t get an image, other than the knowledge they had been together.

She even thought of Christian, the one who had broken her heart a good decade back when he placed that bet. Swallowing thickly Adelaide wondered if there had been any expressions of affection between them. Apparently enough so for the male to feel confident in trampling over her emotions.

Homework as awfully childish as that sounded, did make it easier, diverting Adelaide’s mind to thinking of questions that she would want to know from a potential partner instead, or rather, the type of questions her parents would ask and she would have to know. And even then Adelaide found that it was still not much easier as she wondered if there was a difference in what you knew from a lover compared to a friend, or if it was the same, just with another epithet.

“Addy is fine,” she had responded mindlessly, thoughts tugged so far away while thinking of questions before realising that Hildegard had, dreadfully ironically, already started the little assignment he had given himself.

Another blush, with freckles growing all the more prominent, Adelaide’s eyes flickered before focusing on Hildegard once more, barely able to prevent herself from pausing in the little walk they were taking across the castle as she let the realisation and the depth of them being on name-basis sink in.

“I suppose it, it should be Vi-rgillius for you, right?” the former Ravenclaw student managed to get across her lips, an instant dread befalling her at the idea of calling an adult (forgetting that she was one herself) by their first name, and stumbling once as her breath stocked in instinct.

Drawing a deep breath Adelaide paused herself, eyes flickering shut to refocus before trying that again. “Virgilius,” she repeated, wondering if that’s how it felt to be a stageplayer coming across a difficult to pronounce word.

she would have to practise more. In private.
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1700444118329.jpeg"Addy," Hildegard repeated to himself as if he was testing the word out.

"Addy, Addy, Addy," he mused on it briefly in somewhat of a sing-song voice and with a light smirk. "Interesting. Addy it is," the man agreed to it with a nod. Even though he held endless respect for his colleague, being given permission to use such a nickname was now an innocent little source of his amusement. Especially when a brief glance her way revealed an evident embarrassment on Adelaide's face. It occurred to him that witnessing a sweet, vulnerable moment of a young woman such as that one could have certainly been one of the points of interest that landed them with each other in their play. It had an undeniable charm he would allow himself to be intrigued by.

The sound of his name, spoken with such restraint, provoked a small, light-hearted chuckle from Virgil. "The very same," he responded with a subtle pride in his tone. He nodded again in approval when she dared repeat it, this time with more confidence. "It must be quite a shock for your system to use my first name several times on such short notice. I am impressed. Now, feel free to forget it," he concluded coolly. Hildegard understood very well how such a comment could have been taken the wrong way, but the effect of the pause just before the clarification should have been more than enough to get Miss Rosier's full attention in preparation for it.

"With the exception of my father, no one in my circle calls me Virgilius without a punchline following after. I tend to agree that it's a mouthful." So much so that he had witnessed dear people genuinely forgetting his full given name. And he did not mind. It was a remarkable testament to their place in his life. "Therefore, they would most likely expect you to refer to me simply as Virgil. And if you're feeling daring, 'V' is what my closest and dearest prefer. You can just feel the love in all that effort, no?" he attempted to relieve the stress of new requirements with a witty jest.

Taking a few more steps, Virgil paused and turned slightly to his colleague. "Now, we have quite a few dates to catch up to, Addy," he concluded, offering her a gentleman's arm. "If your evening is available, perhaps we could start with a light conversation in the Staffroom with a freshly brewed tea?"

There was a brief hesitation in his mind. Still, he understood - to make it work - that Miss Rosier needed all the help she could get, and so, as a sign of good faith, Virgilius Hildegard did what he did not think he would otherwise. Looking at his colleague expectantly, he bared his fangs. For once, it was not to threaten or to kill. Those she was already familiar with. This time, a brand new expression would be learned. Virgil was smiling - warmly and charmingly.

"No pressure, of course. I am happy to leave you be for the night if you have other matters to attend to."
Adelaide Rosier

The first time Adelaide thought that she was merely startled, like she would start at the sound of her mother calling her by her full name.

’Addy’ but there her heart raced at the second and by the third 'Addy' Adelaide was certain that her body temperature had risen by a whole degree at least, leaving her feverish, her eyes fervently looking for something else to focus on, something down the hallway preferably.

She couldn’t even find a witty retort at the jests that followed, her voice stalled somewhere midway down her throat when she tried to force a ‘Virgil’, a sound that refused to produce itself even when she tried to cheat herself and try to convince herself that she as merely trying to pronounce the letter ‘V’ instead of an endearing nickname.

“Date?” she squeaked instead, not having anticipated that a date would be part of this understanding. In that same moment Adelaide also forgot her attempts of finding something distracting as she faced Hildegard once more, her eyes just as wide as she was sure that her freckles were bright. Had she been drinking tea at the moment it would have been the end of the youngest daughter of Rosier.

And if Adelaide’s mind hadn’t been running at a mile per second she would have maybe paid more attention to the smile that was thrown into her direction instead of mentally screaming at herself to get herself together and who of her friends she should turn to for advice.

“T-Lovely idea, tonight it is,” Adelaide blurted out instead, wincing at the stumble in her words and her inability to seemingly form a full sentence before she finally turned around, breezing off back the way they had come, “class,” she had thrown out as her excuse, though it came out very lame and very weak with the belated realisation that there were no classes on Saturday.

Caia, Marco, Caia, Marco, someone, Adelaide begged as she pushed herself into the first classroom she could find, pressing against the heavy wooden door as she asked herself just what she had gotten herself into.